Parental interest in children's education, children's self-esteem and locus of control, and later educational attainment: twenty-six year follow-up of the 1970 British Birth Cohort

Br J Educ Psychol. 2006 Mar;76(Pt 1):41-55. doi: 10.1348/000709905X52508.


Background: Few studies have investigated if mother's interest and father's interest in child's education are linked to educational attainment via their impact on child's self-esteem and locus of control.

Aims: (1) To investigate (after controlling for known confounding factors) the long-term effect of mother's and father's interest in child's education at age 10 and child's locus of control and self-esteem at age 10 in educational attainment at age 26; and (2) to explore if mother's interest and father's interest in child's education are linked to child's educational attainment via their effect in increasing child's self-esteem and internal locus of control.

Sample: The study used longitudinal data from sweeps of the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70). The initial sample was those 1,737 men and 2,033 women with valid data on age 10 self-esteem, locus of control, father's interest, mother's interest, and age 26 educational attainment. Of these, 1,326 men and 1,578 women were included in the final analysis.

Method: The birth to age 10 factors that were controlled for were birth weight, parental social class, socio-economic disadvantage, emotional/behavioural problems, cognitive ability, and mother's educational attainment.

Results: At the multivariate level, internal locus of control and mother's interest (but not self-esteem) were significantly related to educational attainment in both men and women. Father's interest was a significant predictor of educational attainment only in women. Parent's interest was not linked to educational attainment via its impact on child's self-esteem or locus of control. Self-esteem predicted educational attainment in both genders by increasing internal locus of control, and fathers' interest predicted educational attainment in men by increasing mother's involvement.

Conclusion: Although mothers' and fathers' interest in their children's education were not linked to educational attainment via their impact on children's self-esteem or locus of control, they were significant predictors of educational attainment especially in daughters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Education*
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • Self Concept*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom